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Gringa Guide to Spanish: Can I just get a straw?

by Amanda La Gringa
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Lesson 12: How To Say “Straw” in Spanish.

When I moved to Miami, I knew my Mexican-tinted Spanish could give me a hard time with all the Cubans and South Americans in the 305. However, I never thought such a simple word could be the palabra giving me the most trouble! That is why I’m dedicating this edition of the Gringa Guide to Spanish to the apparently trickster word -straw- and how to go about saying it in español.

In general, using “Mexican” Spanish in Miami is not recommended….because most of the time you will just get weird looks and nothing much will be accomplished. This lesson is a simple one and honestly, I still struggle with this whenever I go out for comida and decide I need to request a straw with my drink…the convo goes something like this:

Me: ¿Me puedes traer un popote, por favor?

Mesero: ¿Como?

Me: …un popote…. (doubt begins to sink in)

Mesero: -blank stare-

Me: A Straw. Can I just get a straw?

Mesero: OOO…un pitillo! Aqui tienes! (hands over straw)

Here’s what I can find out of the different words that mean straw:

  • Popote: México
  • Pitillo: Colombia, Cuba, Venezuela
  • Pajita: Argentina, Spain (careful, this means something VERY different in Mexico)
  • Sorbeto: Puerto Rico
  • Bombilla: Chile
  • Calimete: Dominican Republic
  • Cañita: Peru
  • Pipa- Costa Rica

So, with this knowledge, make your best guess as to which version of the word you should use next time you are out for dinner OR like me…you could just give up and ask for a straw.

Help me complete the list below!! Also, stay conectado with us on Facebook and Twitter for the latest Gringa Guides y más!

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Silvina July 12, 2012 - 11:57 am

Add Uruguay next to Argentina and Spain.
In the “rioplatenses” countries (ARG and UY), that word, if used without its diminutive form, also has a complete (even dangerous!) different meaning.

It’s not easy to be South American in Miami! In some situations, English is definitely my language of choice when talking to other fellow Spanish-speakers.

Great post!

Nessa Electrik December 20, 2013 - 12:02 am

My Costa Rican boyfriend says they say pajilla for straw. They say pipa to describe a young(green) coconut or a pipe.

Yuri August 15, 2015 - 1:03 pm

In Panama is carrizo 😀


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